Fix talent acquisition mistakes to avoid bad candidate experiences [white paper]

Posted October 25, 2017 by


Talent acquisition professionals, how do you know if you’re providing a positive candidate experience?

Ask your candidates.

It sounds like a punchline to a joke, but in seriousness, the experience you give to candidates reveals a lot about who you are. Disengage, and you shrink the pool you have to fish in. Each candidate lost in the process costs money. Candidates are also customers and like all of us, they have grown to expect great experiences.  A great way to measure whether you’re providing a good candidate experience is really just to ask them. Talent Board, the nonprofit that oversees the Candidate Experience Awards (CandE’s) each year, uses a 4-point scale when they ask their survey respondents this question: “Based on your experience as a candidate, how likely are you to refer others to [your company]?”

Qualified candidates who drop out in the process cost money. Like all of us, candidates have grown to expect great experiences. We teamed up with our friends at TMP Worldwide to create a white paper that will guide you in turning common mistakes into opportunities.

Download the white paper here (no registration needed to download).

This white paper is chock full of tips for improving each step of your selection process to retain your talent pool. We walk you through each step of the talent acquisition process, pointing out common mistakes and their fixes. Read an excerpt in the blog post below.

Want to read other white papers related to current challenges in talent acquisition? Check out our archives here. You’ll find topics like game-changer candidates, predictive analytics and bias in interviewing, and evaluating sources.

When a candidate sees (or doesn’t see) your job listed in search results

In talent acquisition you need good job listingsFind out what is working for others, then build on it.

If you are hiring for entry-level positions, be the job seeker and use the popular platforms they are likely using.  What companies and jobs appear in your search results? The top results get that coveted spot because that organization has marketed their job well. Good marketing attracts the eyes of job seekers, so they click on it, the search engine understands it’s a meaningful result and pushes it to the top. Look closely at the language in the title of the job posting and the ad itself. How long is the ad? What does it say about the application process? Does it give you ideas for your own job listings?

Recruiting talent is marketing, and there is no way to argue otherwise. Don’t underestimate the importance of distinguishing the long and garbled legal job description from the job advertisement. The former has its place, and applicants should absolutely see it—probably when they have expressed enough clear interest in the opening. The latter is what belongs in your recruitment media and advertising.

TIP: Have someone outside the talent acquisition team search for your jobs. They can provide much more neutral feedback. Better yet, ask someone in the position you’re hiring for to do the search.

Common mistake: Many employers have created vanity titles that have a nice ring to it (like “guru”, or “wizard”), but they don’t make sense to the candidate. When you make this mistake, your job may never show up in their search results, and they may not know to even click deeper into the advertisement.

The fix: Ask a team member who currently holds the position how they would search for their own job. Further, make sure your job ad titles are short and concise. Remember that job posting ads, whether they’re on your ATS or on a job search site like College Recruiter, are web pages. Search engines like Google, Bing, or even the ones that your ATS and job search sites use, rank web pages based upon their relevancy to the candidate’s search terms. What’s the most important factor for most of these search engines? The page title. And what’s the page title for a job posting? The job title. If your job title matches the candidate’s search terms, your ad will beat out ads where the job title is similar but different. And your ad will especially beat out ads where the job title doesn’t match, even if their description matches. If you’re struggling to attract enough quality talent, there is a very good chance that your job title is too different from what candidates are searching for. Your ad is that proverbial tree falling in a forest.

Read more common mistakes and fixes in the full white paper

When a candidate reads your job description

Your job description should be concise and clearWhen you catch the job seeker’s eye with your short, concise job ad title, the next challenge is to shorten up the initial description of the job. Analyze carefully how the job is special and what your candidate should understand right away. Based on TMP Worldwide’s observations of employer clients, assume you have 200 characters to grab a candidate’s attention. (As a reference, this paragraph has 357 characters.)

That isn’t to say you only have 200 characters total, but you should assume that if you don’t grab their attention by then, they’re gone.

Common mistake: At this step in the process, it’s common to poorly format the job posting. This is a deal breaker for job seekers, as it makes it look like you didn’t put much care into the job you are hiring for.

The fix: The job they are seeking is the most important job to the candidates, even if you have a ranking of importance in your head, so treat each job posting as if it were for the CEO.

Diversity point: Don’t be unrealistic about what you want from a job seeker, as they may mistakenly think they are underqualified. This especially plays into recruiting gender diversity. Overall, women apply to jobs for which they believe they meet all the listed requirements. Men, however, click to apply when they meet at least 60% of the requirements (Forbes). Are you listing requirements that are only nice-to-have wishes? If so, you might be unwittingly reducing the gender diversity of your pool.

The fix: Once you’ve put in the effort to formatting the posting and removing any jargon, don’t stop there. Consumer marketers (from whom we are all taking our lessons now) know to write content that relates to their audience. If your job seeker doesn’t see what’s in it for them, they won’t bother to apply, so tell them how they will grow and what they will do, letting the candidates imagine themselves in that position.

TIP: Your job posting can be reused as a guide for the employee’s first annual review. In your posting, focus less on the tools they use in the job, and more on what they are expected to accomplish with those tools.

Read more tips in the full white paper

When a candidate uses your ATS

Now that you’ve searched for your own job, you should also apply for it. Our advice is again to have someone outside the TA team go through the application. Ask them to wear a lens to spot what they deem necessary and what isn’t. Ask them to pay attention to the little things, and set the bar low to give them to freedom to complain about anything. That way, you can deliver an above average candidate experience.

Related: High volume talent acquisition–Tips to create a high touch candidate experience

Common mistake: Especially for entry-level talent, many employers cause too much friction necessary to get through the entire application process.  You need to reduce this friction. This does not mean leaving out important information that would help them decide.

The fix: Take a careful look at how many steps your application truly requires for your team to make an initial evaluation.

Candidates who refuse to jump through hoops just to finish your application are not demonstrating a weak work ethic or lack of commitment. Today, when we consume anything online, we take smaller bites, and demand that those bites be as flavorful as possible. Talent acquisition leaders are no different than job seekers in their desire to get what they want faster. A drawn-out application process that doesn’t engage candidates won’t give you the cream of the crop. Instead, it weeds out qualified people who have other things to do (say, work).

When you send a “thanks for applying” email

Send more information when thanking a candidate for interviewingEvery candidate understands that the “thank you” email they receive within moments of applying is an automatic response. That’s fine; they don’t expect a human to respond right away. But just because your thanks-for-applying note is automatic doesn’t mean it can be boring or disengaging.

This is a perfect example of how every touch point matters, and is an opportunity to build your brand and demonstrate to the candidate that you are worth waiting for.

Your auto-email may already tell candidates what to expect next, but you can probably add a few details. Read our suggestions for those details in the full white paper.

When you conduct an interview

TIP: Ask candidates how their experience has been so far as an applicant. This will make them understand that you care about them, even though they are one of many applicants.

But if you are not willing to hear critical and honest feedback about the application process—or worse, if the nature of their feedback will affect their standing as a candidate—don’t ask.

Having said that, how they answer this question can certainly provide insight into their qualifications and character. You might find that someone who can give feedback in a constructive and professional way is, in fact, a quality you’d like on your team.

Common mistake: Too many interviewers ask questions that trigger their biases, or they don’t fairly compare candidates. Worse, plenty of recruiters play it by ear and go far beyond their script because that is how they “get a feel for the candidate.” Keep in mind that the small talk you make before or during an interview matters. An unstructured interview might lead you into a 10-minute conversation about a shared interest with the candidates. You might be thinking, but that improves the candidate experience, right? It does for the candidates who are like you. Any others, who may be qualified but see the world differently, will walk away feeling a total disconnect.

Read our recommended fix in the full white paper.


Print Friendly, PDF & Email


We believe that every student and recent grad deserves a great career. Get a personalized proposal for how best to reach your target candidates by entering your info here. We will respond within one business day.

Thank you for submitting your request to College Recruiter for a proposal for how we can help you hire students and recent graduates of one-, two-, and four-year colleges and universities for part-time, seasonal, internship, and entry-level opportunities.

We will likely respond within a couple of hours and definitely within one business day. Should you need assistance even faster, please call us at 952.848.2211 or email us at [email protected].

Posted in Advice for Employers, Applying, Job Search | Tagged Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,